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Donald Wuerl — the cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C. — must go.
The kingpin of the American hierarchy — a man who over the decades has carefully and meticulously cultivated an image of reformer — has now been exposed as a fraud, just as guilty as scores of other bishops in the U.S. who hid and shuffled around homosexual predator priests and concelaed them from law enforcement officials.
The long-awaited bombshell Pennsylvania Grand Jury report is out, released in dramatic fashion — live streamed by the attorney general's office — and Donald Wuerl has now been revealed as one of the major players in the decades-long cover-up of child sex abuse during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh.
Despite his carefully manufactured facade over the years as being a leader of the "zero tolerance" policy, what is now clear is that he was complicit in shuffling priests around in what he himself termed a "Circle of Secrecy."
In one of the more than half million pages of internal Church documents the grand jury reviewed, Wuerl himself had noted in those documents that the Church's child sex abuse cover-up was a "circle of secrecy."
Wuerl was publicly condemned by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro as one of the Pennsylvania bishops who had covered up abuse and was then promoted.
In the case of one notorious homosexual predator priest, in 1996, Wuerl gave his approval for the priest to transfer to California without adequately informing them of the priest's long history of sexual assault against minors.
The diocese of San Diego, where the priest went, contacted Wuerl and said the insurance carrier wanted the following question answered: That Father has "not had any problems involving sexual abuse, any history of sexual involvement with minors or others, or any inappropriate sexual behavior."
The grand jury charges that Wuerl did not provide the full truth to San Diego regarding the priest.
Wuerl did not suspend his faculties. And the priest continued to enjoy the support of Wuerl and the diocese. The priest Ernest Paone had been abusing children for 41 years, and yet was never removed from active ministry.
Likewise, as the reports of the initial homosexual priest sex abuse problem was exploding across the nation's headlines from Boston, the grand jury report charges that Wuerl communicated nothing of the criminal homosexul assaults of Paone to the district attorney's office.
The report goes on to add, "In spite of Wuerl's statements to the Vatican, the clear and present threat that Paone posed to children was hidden and kept secret (by Wuerl) from parishioners in three states. Wuerl's statements had been meaningless without any action."
The grand jury also noted regarding Wuerl that it was only the "external force" of the media reports "that generated the action (by Wuerl) which should have occurred decades earlier" — referring to the removal of Fr. Paone's faculties.
In another case directly implicating Wuerl, Fr. George Zirwas, a Pittsburgh priest found murdered in his apartment in Havana, Cuba in 2001 by a male prostitute, had been accused of sex abuse as early as 1987.
When Wuerl was first installed in 1988, he received complaints that Zirwas had fondled a 16-year-old boy's genitals.
In the same month, Wuerl received a second complaint from a male complaining Zirwas had groped him when he was 17.
Wuerl sent Zirwas away for treatment, and then placed him back in active ministry, where he was shuffled from parish to parish for another decade.
In spite of receiving yet another complaint about Zirwas in 1991, with a male victim claiming Zirwas had groped him, Wuerl left him to continue in active ministry.
Even more disturbing, Zirwas was connected to a priest pederast ring that involved drugs, alcohol and sadomasochistic acts involving whips and chains used on two teen altar boys, this taking place partly under Wuerl’s tenure.
This is what the grand jury report says about that:
During the course of this investigation, the Grand Jury uncovered a ring of predatory priests operating within the Diocese who shared intelligence or information regarding victims as well as exchanging the victims amongst themselves. This ring also manufactured child pornography on Diocesan property, including parishes and rectories. This group included: Zirwas, Francis Pucci, Robert Wolk, and Richard Zula. This group of priests used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims.
The boys specially chosen for the priests' abuse were given gifts of gold crosses, which allowed the priests to identify which ones had been groomed for abuse.
According to the grand jury report, the diocese under Wuerl knew about the priests' sordid activities but volunteered none of this information to the police or prosecutor during the investigation.
In fact, Wuerl even agreed to give Zirwas a higher payout in exchange for Zirwas' silence about other homosexual predatory priests in Pittsburgh.
The grand jury report notes that in 1996, Zirwas demanded that his monthly pay be increased in exchange for his statement disavowing all knowledge of other predator priests' illegal sexual conduct. Zirwas signed the statement, and Wuerl gave him a bonus payout — in addition to the monthly stipend Zirwas was already receiving from the diocese.
In an interview with CBS News earlier today, before the release of the grand jury report, Donald Wuerl was asked point blank if he should resign.
Nikki Battiste: "Some people have called for your resignation. Do you have any plans to resign?"
Cdl. Wuerl: "It goes back over 70 years, so I think we have to be realistic and say, this claim goes back over decades and decades."
Yesterday, in anticipation of the reports released today, Wuerl has the gall to issue this statement: "I was bishop during that period of time, I think that's why I'm involved at all. I was bishop there for 18 years. There's no charge at all that I was involved in anything."
That statement is either delusional or a flat-out lie.
There are charges, specific charges contained directly in the grand jury report that he was involved in any number of sordid issues.
What now remains to be seen is if other American bishops will now call on the Vatican to strip Wuerl from the College of Cardinals, as Pope Francis did with Cdl. McCarrick.
The Pope himself has issued a zero tolerance policy with regard to bishops who covered up sexual abuse of minors by homosexual clergy, and Donald Wuerl is now the poster boy for this whole seedy, demonic affair.
Donald Wuerl must go. The U.S. bishops have no choice on the matter but to begin calling for his immediate resignation, followed by removal from the College of Cardinals.
The moment of truth has arrived for U.S. bishops.
Either they are serious about cleaning all this up — as their flood of statements the past few days claim they are — or they are hypocrites afraid to damage their careers by calling for the downfall of the most powerful cardinal in the American Church.
Stay tuned to Church for continuing coverage, and to see which choice the American bishops make.